A Grammar Sketch of Southern Sinama Language


  • Jeffrey Rajik
    Assistant Professor, Language Department, Mindanao State University – Tawi-Tawi, Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, Philippines
  • Mary Ann Tarusan Professor, Professional Schools, University of Mindanao, Davao City, Philippines
January 1, 2023


This study aimed to sketch the grammar of the Southern Sinama language, particularly that of the Simunul variety. The language is spoken in the island municipality of Simunul in Tawi-Tawi, Philippines, by some 34,000 people. This study employed a qualitative research method utilizing the descriptive design. Drawn from the elicited data, the description sketches the language in three different levels: phonology, morphology, and syntax. In the language phonology, significant features include 24 phonemes: 17 consonants and seven vowels; no consonant cluster occurs within syllable; word-initially, [m], [n], and [l] can occur as phonetically lengthened to the extent that they form a geminate cluster; and the replacement of segment is evident through nasal fusion. In language morphology, noted features comprise affixes which interrelate with other structures of the language, such as aspect, mood, and the voice system of the verbs, which in consequence, affects the meaning of the utterance. In terms of syntax, Southern Sinama is a head marking language with VSO word order whose clause structures encompass one to three arguments (i.e. actor, object, and benefactor).